Tag: nuclear fusion

IBM, European Union sign deal to strengthen infrastructure

Big Blue said it will cooperate with the European Union and other organisations to design tech that will help prevent important infrastructure computer systems from falling over.

The areas the EU is concerned about include nuclear power plants, transport, electric grids, and water.

IBM somewhat understates this saying “the consequences of a glitch in system upgrades can be global and costly”. As these infrastructures are more and more governed by digital systems, detecting potential bugs in the software before disaster happens would be jolly useful.

IBM and the EU will build technology and share its research with the open source community.

The project is called Pincette, French for tweezers, the idea being that the tech will pick out small software bugs and cut on the cost of maintaining system software by auto testing software.

Parners in the venture include IBM Research in Haifa, the University of Oxford, Universita della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland, Universita’ degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, Valtion Teknillinen Tutkimuskeskus (VTT) in Finland, Israel Aerospace Industries, and ABB.

The EU will fund the Pincette venture although how much it is contributing doesn’t seem to be clear. VTT in Finland will use Pincette to guarantee robots monitoring thermo-nuclear reactors will work properly. This is a 30 year project also funded by the EU with the aim of replacing nuclear reactors with “clean” machines using atomic fusion. Pincette is here.

American boffins make breakthrough in laser fusion tech

The US has made a major breakthrough in laser fusion technology, which could help the megapower combat China’s future energy dominance with its rare Earth metals.

Following recent experiments from the National Ignition Facility, it’s hoped that using laser fusion technology, it may be possible to control the fusion of atoms which would create similar conditions to those found in the Earth’s Sun.

Nukie BeerWhile nuclear power works by splitting atoms, the idea is that the laser technology will fuse them together and create an ‘ignite’ type reaction. The recent test focused on igniting a tiny cylinder of gold called a hohlraum It was previously thought that plasma created by the fusion would interrupt the possibility of igniting the hohlraum and turning laser energy into fuel. However, Siegfried Glenzer’s team managed to ignite it and raise 669 kiloJoules of energy, far more than any previous tests.

Glenzer told BBC News that if that steady stream of power could be maintained, it could boil the contents of over 50 Olympic sized swimming pools in just one second.

The results are significant, says Dr Glenzer, because his team has discovered that plasma didn’t reduce the hohlraum’s ability to absorb the laser light.

With oil reserves running out and the world desperate for a new, sustainable energy – and China holding out on it’s rare Earth metals that could prove the answer – it’s good news for the US and the western world.